ASEAN SOLIDARITY MOVES MYANMAR
It’s proof that members of a regional alliance can come to a consensus in complex issues, says Annuar
MYANMAR’s commitment to resolve the Rohingya crisis, which has displaced more than 600,000 from their homes, is not only reflective of Asean’s unity, but the strength of its members’ voices, particularly Malaysia.
Umno information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa said Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s commitment to Asean leaders that her country would bring back Rohingya refugees after it signed an agreement with its neighbour, Bangladesh, was evidnce that members of the regional alliance were able to come to a consensus in complex issues without the need for outside interference.
Annuar said the latest milestone in resolving the Rohingya crisis could be attributed to efforts initiated by Malaysia, particularly Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who relentlessly pursued the matter at regional and international platforms.
“It is important that Suu Kyi has made a stand, as it shows that despite the escalating global pressure over the situation, Myanmar remains in solidarity with fellow Asean members.
“If it had not been forthcoming, Malaysia would have had to look into other means of providing humanitarian aid, including via the United Nations. It’s a humanitarian issue that needs to be resolved and we should work together to solve it.”
Annuar said with the latest development, he hoped Suu Kyi would follow through the commitment with utmost sincerity.
“There is no use if they allow in humanitarian aid, but continue the violence against the Rohingya.
“No government apparatus should be involved in violence against the Rohingya,” he said.
Suu Kyi had, during the 31st Asean Summit plenary session, given her government’s commitment to resolve the issue.
Najib, on the sidelines of the summit, said Suu Kyi had committed to allowing humanitarian aid into Rakhine and would discuss the repatriation of refugees with the Bangladeshi government.
Annuar was speaking after appearing on TV3’s Soal Jawab programme yesterday, where he also touched on issues faced by Umno as well as its preparedness for the 14th General Election.
Meanwhile, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Merhrom) said it had its concerns, particularly of Myanmar not keeping its word in resolving the issue and continuing to harm the minority group.
Its president, Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, said the Rohingya refugees would only agree to be repatriated if the Myanmar government could guarantee an end to the persecution of the community.
“This is not the first time they made such a commitment. In 1979, the then Bangladeshi prime minister made an agreement with Myanmar to allow the Rohingya refugees to be repatriated. However months later, violence broke out again.
“Agreements were also made in 1994 and 2004. My brother went back (to Rakhine), but after a month, they had to escape to Bangladesh because they were brutally beaten and tortured.”
The Myanmar government, Zafar said, should prove their commitment by stopping the persecution of the Rohingya and accept them as one of Myanmar’s ethnic groups.
“How can they claim that they are willing to accept us when our houses are still being burnt down, and our women and children raped?
“They must accept the Rohingya as an ethnic group, rebuild our homes and compensate us for the atrocities and properties destroyed,” Zafar said, adding that a formal agreement should be signed between Naypyidaw and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to ensure that the community could be repatriated safely.
“Rohingya everywhere, including those in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and other countries, want to go home.”
He said his community was grateful to Malaysia for its relentless effort in highlighting the plight of the Rohingya.
“I thank Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for highlighting this humanitarian issue... We hope Malaysia will continue to help us to resolve the issue once and for all,” he said.
Rohingya women holding children at a makeshift camp in Rakhine State. (Inset) Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani says the community is grateful to Malaysia for highlighting its plight.